The Sunday Independent posed the following questions to Minister of State for Small Business John Perry but he refused to comment. A spokesman said: “As this matter currently remains before the courts, Minister Perry will be making no comment.”
In relation to the loan Mr Perry agreed with Bank of Ireland to help pay his outstanding tax bill of approximately €100,000, what security – if any – was provided to the Bank of Ireland?
• Why did Mr Perry tell Danske Bank officials that he was friends with Bank of Ireland chief executive Richie Boucher? What would this have to do with any decision the bank would make on extending credit to him? Did he expect it to make a difference?
• Why did Mr Perry meet Danske officials in his Dail office? Did he not consider this to be an inappropriate use of that office? Did he think a meeting held in a minister’s office would in any way influence Danske Bank officials in their treatment of him?
• Can Mr Perry explain his remark to Danske Bank officials on January 31 last, where he accused them of being engaged in a form of bullying? Why did he go on to ask the bank’s officials if they treated all their customers in the same way? Does he consider it appropriate to have referred to the bank’s relations with other customers given his position as a government minister?
Junior minister John Perry’s position has become increasingly tenuous after it emerged he had tax arrears of €100,000 with the Revenue Commissioners.
The documents also show Mr Perry accusing the bank of “a form of bullying” and alluded to the personal consequences of actions by the bank “with his job”.
Mr Kenny said he has spoken with Mr Perry about his financial difficulties this week.
And the Taoiseach has also discussed the matter with Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore as concern within the Coalition over Mr Perry’s position mounts.
However, it is not clear if the Taoiseach or Tanaiste were aware of Mr Perry’s tax arrears – as neither Government leader is commenting.
But Mr Perry told Danske Bank in January 2012 that Bank of Ireland had agreed to give him a 10-year loan to help him address tax arrears of about €100,000, according to Commercial Court documents.
But it is not clear if the minister has since cleared the arrears with Revenue.
Last night, opposition parties called on Mr Perry (pictured) to make a statement on his finances as the reference to tax arrears piled the pressure on the minister.
Mr Perry has six weeks to repay €2.5m after he and and his wife Marie consented to a judgment for that amount against them at the Commercial Court over unpaid loans on Monday.
Mr Kenny said Mr Perry’s case was “indicative” of a number of business people across the country who have got into financial difficulty. I don’t really want to say anymore about John Perry’s particular problem.
“I spoke to him on Sunday and obviously they are working on that for the future,” he said.
Speaking on Mid-West Radio in Mayo, Mr Kenny said Mr Perry was committed to continuing his work as Small Business Minister.
“Obviously he has worked exceptionally hard in terms of his ministry. He’s got a court judgment to deal with here now in respect of the next five or six weeks,” he said.
Mr Gilmore’s spokesman said the Tanaiste reiterated that Mr Perry and his wife should be given the “time and space” to deal with the issues.
He also confirmed the Taoiseach and the Tanaiste had a “brief conversation” on the matter.
Mr Kenny’s spokesman also would not comment on the tax arrears question.
“The Taoiseach is not going to comment on the details of the case as the court proceedings progress,” the spokesman said.
But Fianna Fail finance spokesman Michael McGrath said it would not be acceptable for Mr Perry, as Minister of State for Small Business, to preside over businesses that were not meeting their taxation obligations to the State.
“In my view, on that issue alone, his position is very much called into question,” he said.
Mr Perry also told Danske Bank that AIB had agreed to give him an 11-year loan to pay €125,000 to other creditors and his other lenders had agreed to continue facilities on an interest only basis, minutes of meetings state.
The minutes relate to some of a number of meetings held between Danske and Mr Perry about delays in making repayments on a loan of €2.4m made to him and his wife in October 2011.
It also emerged that when the bank indicated last january that it would seek judgment or appoint a receiver if satisfactory proposals were not provided, Mr Perry expressed shock at the bank’s “aggressive approach”.
Last April, Minister of State for Small Business John Perry wrote to the chief executives of Bank of Ireland and AIB asking them to meet a Government advisory group and set out their positions on funding small and medium-sized enterprises, and how they dealt with SMEs with distressed loans.
“It is imperative that we listen to the voice of small business,” said Perry. Indeed when Taoiseach Enda Kenny appointed him to the ministerial ranks it was because of Perry’s “understanding of small business”.
The extent of Perry’s understanding of distressed loans in the SME sector became clearer yesterday when the Sligo politician and his wife, Marie, consented in the Commercial Court to a judgment of €2.47 million against them in favour of Danske Bank
The debt related to a €2.42 million loan advanced to the couple in October 2011, which itself was a restructuring of existing loans. To use the phrase made infamous by the Anglo Irish recordings, Perry as the relevant Minister had skin in the game.
The court proceedings disclosed that security and collateral on the loan included the Stone Park Restaurant, Perry’s Hardware shop in the politician’s home town ofBallymote, Co Sligo, as well as 50 acres of agricultural land.
The Fine Gael politician did not make himself available for comment yesterday and a spokeswoman said: “The matter remains before the court and he will not be making any comment until [proceedings are concluded].”
Registration of the judgment is scheduled for September 2nd. The Perrys had sought a three-month stay on the registration to allow them seek a resolution but counsel for Danske Bank objected on the grounds that they had had ample time to do so.
The judgment will create major political problems for Perry and might even cast a strong doubt on his future status as a TD. Officially the Government will make no comment about the case but privately officials have said it is a private matter for the Minister of State that does not impinge on his public duties in Government.
He will be the second Minister in the past year to have his financial affairs exposed to scrutiny, following the inclusion of Minister for Health James Reilly’s name in Stubbs’ Gazette. Politically, however, the judgment will have more ramifications for Perry.
He is, after all, the Minister for Small Business. And in his position, can he credibly call – as he did last April – for the chief executives of the country’s biggest banks to explain their position on distressed loans to an advisory group of which he is a member when he himself is in that category? The Dáil is in recess but will be returning within a fortnight of the judgment being registered.
John Perry, the Fine Gael Minister for Small Business, is being taken to court by Danske Bank which is seeking repayment of close to €1.3m in loans racked up during the property boom.
The Sligo TD owns a number of businesses and properties in and around his Ballymote power base. The latest register of Oireachtas members’ interests lists his assets as including a supermarket, apartment, funeral home, 70 acres of land in various locations and offices in Ballymote and Sligo town.
If he has any sense of decency John Perry a Minister who has blatantly lied to his constituents and is being taken to court for nonpayment of debts should immediately resign his seat. However it is unliky that this arragant ywat will do so.
Generally, this man only opens his mouth to change the foot he has wedged in there. When the two feet are not at home, he comes out with gems that do not inspire confidence… “There must be assistance for small businesses that are creating unemployment throughout the country”(Dáil speech).
Rest assured this man will do nothing concrete to stimulate the retail sector where approx 40,000 jobs have been lost in the past five years. Regretfully due to Government policies, many more localized jobs are uncertain due to the inactivity of this no-getter. Even so, then again, what can you expect from a man who cannot even get around to fixing the local potholes?
John the Promise in another open-mouthed gesture guaranteed the restoration of Breast cancer services to Sligo General hospital within 100 days of Government. During a live interview with Ocean FM concerning the return of cancer services to the North West of Ireland. Perry hung up the phone when questioned on his failure to deliver on his promise. He claimed that the presenter had an agenda against him. What a cringing cop out, what paucity of thought. Perhaps a taste of things to come – A true-blue arrogant fascist to the end.
I have just done this man a slight disservice for I understand he is a high flier when it comes to claiming the few bob.
For expenses in his first twelve months, this man topped the bill. Among his colleagues, he is known as the King of uncertified reimbursement.
In conclusion, what can one say about Perry? Maybe he is a bit like the invisible man. Could you pick him out from a line-up of expense villains? That folk is the story of Perry the obscure, invisible before the election and unseen after it just waiting for his Bisto pension.
IF THERE IS one topic that I get asked questions on more than any other it is in the area of bank deposits, the Deposit Protection Guarantee Scheme (DGS) and Deposit Interest Rates. The first answer I always give is that we should worry about the areas we can control, and ignore things that we cannot control.
Reading and discussing economic and investment updates seems to have replaced past discussions on property values and everyone seems to have an opinion on the Bank Guarantee, Euro Stability, Yen Devaluation and German Government Bond Yield. In reality, the investment world is very simple, but investment managers, stockbrokers and economists make their living from selling fear, greed and excitement in equal doses!
€150 million is on deposit in Irish banks
To set the scene, there is over €150 billion on deposit in customer deposit accounts in Irish Banks as of February 2013. This figure has been steadily falling ever since the banking crisis began in the summer of 2008, but is still a significant figure.
At that time, the Irish Government introduced the Eligible Liabilities Guarantee (ELG) which covered all deposits and some bonds in Irish covered institutions, in their entirety. I won’t cover the merits or otherwise of this blanket guarantee, or whether they were forced into it by higher powers. However, the ELG did give Irish depositors some comfort that all of their hard earned savings were fully guaranteed by the Government, and at the end of the day, the European institutions.
This comfort was taken away at the end of March when the ELG expired and we reverted to the historic guarantee. This guarantees €100,000 per institution. Therefore any individual who has a deposit with a covered institution with a balance under €100,000 can take some amount of comfort in a government guarantee.
If you’re lucky to have over €100,000, you should protect it
This does cause some confusion for individuals with multiple accounts, as the guarantee is per ‘institution’ not per account. For example, if an individual is lucky enough to have a savings deposit with AIB for €100,000, and also a portion of their pension on deposit with AIB for another €150,000, these accounts are taken in aggregate and only €100,000 of the combined balance (€250,000) is guaranteed)
Most sensible individuals are now rightly worried about the security of their cash and how to mitigate all the risks associated with savings and investments at the moment.
While I don’t personally believe the European Institutions or the Irish Government will default on their guarantee, recent news in Cyprus has, at least partially, brought this possibility into focus. It is clear that spreading deposits around the guaranteed banks and keeping exposure to any one bank below €100,000 is the obvious way to reduce this risk to a minimum
The threat to people’s deposits
Since banks have had some success with recent bond issues and seem to be stabilising, deposit rates have fallen significantly. There were wide spread offers during the summer of 2012 for 5 Year Fixed Deposits earning over 5 per cent. The best rate on the market as of the time of writing is now 2.75 per cent (excluding specialist accounts with Danske Bank).
This return, after DIRT is deducted, will only just beat inflation and I see this as being a larger threat to people’s deposits over the long term than any short term default risk. However, inflation never gets the headlines and is an invidious threat which is hard to understand in the short term.
The only true way to protect you from risks is to be widely diversified across a whole range of asset classes. €150 billion on deposit in Ireland would indicate to me that we are over-invested in cash at the moment, just as we were over-invested in property and Irish Equities in 2007.
Diversifying is the only way to protect your cash
In the long run, well managed and well protected portfolios never have too much in any one asset class. I would recommend assistance from a professional (ideally from a Fee Based Financial Advisor) before deciding exactly how to invest in a widely diversified portfolio but it’s the only way to truly protect against all the threats to our wealth and wellbeing in the current economic environment.
My biggest fear for Irish Investors and any of those individuals sitting on large deposits is that as the interest rates keep falling, they will become more and more restless. Equity markets have been on a fairly steady bull run since the market bottom in March 2009. The US indices are at or above all-time highs and this strong short term past performance might tempt some of these depositors to finally leap back into the markets.
I don’t know what is going to happen, but I would be nervous about equity markets at their current valuations and can easily see a correction in the second half of 2013. As markets keep going up, the risks of this correction keep getting larger and I just hope Irish depositors don’t’ get caught out by the markets again.
In summary then, the only way to reduce risk is to diversify. At a minimum this diversification should be across all the guaranteed banks, and for funds with a long term focus, diversification into other asset classes is ideal.
David Quinn is the Managing Director of Investwise.ie. Established in 1988, Investwise is the trading name of Fitzpatrick Morris Financial Services Limited. With years of experience in the financial industry, they offer independent services and advice on a range of financial matters.
During the Christmas 2004 tsunami in Asia, it was remarkable that there were so few mass animal deaths, and there is a long-held belief that animals can sense disaster ahead of human beings. Likewise, banks with their fingers on the pulses of households’ and businesses’ financial performance and prospects might be expected to have an unusually perceptive grasp on the economy; with a pattern emerging of banks exiting or considering exiting the State, this doesn’t augur well for our medium term economic prospects.
Next week we should get the Q3, 2012 results from Belgian-owned KBC bank which just a few weeks ago was strongly protesting that it didn’t have plans to exit from the Irish market. Industry speculation however is that KBC has had a lousy Q3,2012 in the Irish market and that its residential mortgage book in particular continues to deteriorate at an alarming rate. Insiders thought there was something of the bank “protestething” just a little too much recently, and that a partial or total exit may also be on the cards. The single reference to Ireland in KBC’s presentation to analysts on 8thOctober 2012 was noted with curiosity by some.
Towards the end of last week, there was unverified speculation in Dublin that Ulster Bank, owned by troubled British banking giant, Royal Bank of Scotland was considering an exit from the Irish market. Ulster Bank has already been flogging loan portfolios in an obvious bid to reduce its exposure in the Irish market, but the fear is that a more substantial action is afoot. Nothing came of the speculation, but the bank’s actions will be scrutinised closely in future, to see if a more radical exit is on the cards.
Today however, we actually get a definite announcement. Danske Bank, whose local bank brands are called Northern Bank in Northern Ireland and National Irish Bank in (the Republic of) Ireland, has published its Q3,2012 results which continue to show severe deterioration in its Irish loan book, though the pace of decline has eased. Danske has announced today that “the non-core Ireland portfolio will be divested” Looking through the Danske Irish financial statement for Q3, 2012 it looks as if there’s about €3bn of non-core lending in Ireland plus €2.5bn of core in the Republic and €4.8bn in Northern Ireland. There are €1bn of non-core deposits and €2bn of core deposits in the Republic and €5bn in Northern Ireland. So today’s announcement represents a major disposal though we await details of how and when the disposal will be made.
Bank of Scotland (Ireland) and Halifax are already in the process of running down their Irish loans, partly using the asset manager Certus. This follows the announcement of the exit from the Irish market of the two Lloyds-owned units in 2010.
ACC Bank, the Irish unit of Dutch-owned Rabobank said in June 2012 that it had no plans to exit the Irish market, this despite running up four years of losses, and needing a bailout of €930m from its parent operation in Holland.
We will shortly get mortgage arrears data from the Central Bank for Q3,2012 and for the first time should get detailed information on Buy-To-Let mortgages alongside the traditional data on Owner-Occupier mortgages. BTL is especially expected to show signs of crisis, the picture with Owner-Occupier mortgages is less clear with a slowing-down in the rate of deterioration recorded in Q1 and Q2, 2012. Commercial property continues to decline at an annualised 10% and it may be too early to claim the residential market is stabilising. Unemployment remains elevated at close to 15% and economic forecasts for 2012 and 2013 are trending downwards.
Maybe some banks do have a sixth sense.
via NAMA Wine Lake.
via NAMA Wine Lake.